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How to Run a Specialist Food Business in South Africa

Do you own a unique food business and need some guidance on running it successfully? Then this article is for you!

South Africa is in a unique position because it is home to people from a multitude of different cultures. Each of these cultures gives us a taste of new foods and flavours and, because of this, there are some amazing specialist food businesses that have been opening up all over the country.

Shops, restaurants and market stalls are offering niche produce and products with great success. If you are hoping to jump into this market, here are some tips when it comes to running your specialist food business well!


Pick your niche

The artisanal food business has certainly grown over the last few years.

Freshly baked bread and home-made jams are on offer in small shops and online. It’s important that you pick the right niche to go with so that you can stand out from the competition. 

Your niche doesn’t have to be an artisan good. Running a business that supplies a luxury food that is not widely available can also fill a gap in the market.


Currently, the specialist food industry is one in which entrepreneurs are able to become really successful. Craft beers and gin have become extremely popular and there is more of a push for people to buy locally and responsibly. 

As easily as trends come, though, they can disappear. Keep your eye on what is happening in the market and keep up with what it is that customers want.

Despite the trends, however, if you have a quality product that finds a loyal customer base, you should be able to focus on marketing to them and giving them what they want.

Craft Beer


Deciding on what you are going to charge for your product is going to be difficult. Speciality foods can be expensive. Either they are a luxury product that has an expensive wholesale price, or it can be labour intensive to hand make the food.

If your price is higher, don’t panic. You will just need to come up with a marketing strategy that will help you to aim your food at a specific target audience. Appeal to people who would rather spend more on local or quality produce.


Small food businesses have thrived with the new Saturday morning pastime of market-going. These markets have made speciality foods fashionable and the lower rent costs make it possible for small businesses to peddle their goods with fewer expenses. 

Many booming speciality food businesses have launched themselves from markets in Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg or Durban.

Bunny Chow


Getting people to buy your speciality food products could also come down to finding retailers to stock your goods. You will need to do a lot of research, phoning, travelling and meeting with people in order to get your products in the right kind of shops.

Establishing good relationships with these retailers will help you to be able to keep stocking your goods in their shops.


Your business might also think about taking advantage of the tourism industry in South Africa. With the Rand particularly weak at the moment, tourists from Europe and the US will be a lot more likely to be able to afford what you’re selling.

Traditional foods are a good way to get the attention of tourists. Shisa nyama, bunny chows, milk tarts or any of the other countless traditional foods that are native to the country could be a way to target tourists. 

Any speciality food business that you decide to buy should have the potential to incorporate at least some of these aspects into the business. Use these tips to create a thorough business plan so that you can buy and run your perfect business.

Matthew Hernon

About the author

Matthew Hernon is an Account Manager at Dynamis looking after Business Transfer Agents and Franchises across and